"I found my purpose, I'm not sure if I chose it or it was chosen for me, but I have no doubt that I survived to serve others."
Heart of a Thousand Hills (HOTH) was founded by Nina Iliza, a Rwandan native. The organization began as a passion project as she hungered to find a positive way to remember a country that brought her so much pain. Nina survived the 1994 genocide, but many of her family members did not. The most distressful loss was the loss of her mother and her brother. After years of suffering in silence, too ashamed to talk about her history- she realized she needed to change the narrative. She pushed forward as a conquer and left her own pity behind. Her healing process has led her to a life of service. As a way to honor her mother and remember her brother she allowed her passion of service to lead her back to Rwanda, where it all began.
While forming the organization she received her Masters in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in fundraising. She has combined her love for giving back, her devotion in education and zeal for the youth into what she hopes to be a path for the future. While the organization is still young and always growing, she has enjoyed every bit of the roller-coaster. Heart Of a Thousand Hills started by collecting and delivering school supplies, but has now grown to building schools, implementing programs for the community. The goal, Nina says, is to never stop learning and never stop serving.
With a small team HOTH has been able to stand out as a NGO operated solely by volunteers. The work is hard but the joy received is priceless.